{ Co-designed and fisher-driven ICTs towards transformation of small-scale fisheries governance, ‘from hook to cook}

The ABALOBI initiative is an open, transdisciplinary and social learning endeavour, bringing together various stakeholders, with traditional fishers taking centre stage. ABALOBI, as a mobile app suite and programme, is aimed at social justice and poverty alleviation in the small-scale fisheries chain, transformation in the way we produce knowledge, stewardship of our marine resources, and resilience building in the face of climate change.

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Many of our team members, including the small-scale fishers of South Africa, were integrally involved in the design of South Africa’s new Small-Scale Fisheries Policy, which emanated from a Constitutional Court Order and international human and fishing rights obligations. ABALOBI brings us together as an extension of our research, advocacy and policy work, and launches us into implementation and co-operative governance.
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{ Working towards good governance and embracing a human-rights-based approach to fisheries: Through the development of an integrated small-scale fisheries information management system and mobile app suite, the ABALOBI initiative aims to enable small-scale fishing communities to be incorporated into information and resource networks: from fishery monitoring and maritime safety, to local development and market opportunities }

ABALOBI, isiXhosa for small-scale fisher, is the name given to the app suite by small-scale fisherfolk involved in the co-development process


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    Promoting stewardship

    Fishers encouraged to serve as custodians and promote sustainability. Allows opportunity for integration with conservation efforts.

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    Empowerment in the value chain

    Working towards community-supported fisheries and traceable slowfish. Empowerment through market information and collective action.

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    Co-operative fisheries governance

    Using a common knowledge base, based on fishers’ daily data, all stakeholders at the co-management table are poised equally.

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    Ecosystems approach to fisheries

    Decisions by fishers and other stakeholders can be based on ecological and social indicators.

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    Climate change adaptation

    Improved safety at sea and resilience building in the face of climate change.

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    Enabling tool for policy implementation

    Small-Scale Fisheries Policy (South Africa) and UN-FAO Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (International)

{ What started as a participatory action research project with a strong community development interface, has evolved into a social enterprise that is now being registered as a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) and public benefit entity to better serve its fisher-driven mission }

Transdisciplinary research

Stakeholders work together in framing the problem and research needs, leading to the co-design of the tool based on input and tests in real-life contexts.

Co-design and fisher-driven process

Ensures data ownership and trust. Practical development and implementation within a bottom-up, participatory framework. Focus on product, process and enabling policy.

Open source & free for small-scale fishers

Leveraging the latest tech and open source platforms. Sharing innovations globally.

Recognition of fishers’ knowledge

Bridging local knowledge with science and policy. Developing knowledge for co-management.

ICT4D for small-scale fisheries: The ABALOBI initiative is about catalysing real transformation, of knowledge generation, of people, and of resource governance


The ABALOBI app suite comprises five inter-connected apps – conceptualised in a co-design process and currently in various stages of development and testing. The five apps cover the full spectrum of stakeholders in the small-scale fisheries sector from hook to cook, governance and beyond. Learn more …


The foundation of the app suite where fishers co–produce knowledge. Personal logbook with sharing options. Safety-at-sea integrations. More ...


Digitised community catch monitoring at the landing site & along the shoreline. More ...


Real-time fishery data & communications for co-management. More ...


Co-operative member & fleet management. Collective & transparent accounting. Catch value-adding. More ...


Fish with an ecological & social ‘story‘. Towards community-supported fisheries. Empowerment in the value chain. More ...

International reach

Beyond South Africa: An open source approach to the development of the ABALOBI platform seeks to allow customisation and use by small-scale fisheries stakeholders worldwide, aligned with the implementation of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation’s (FAO’s) Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries.


Aligned with the United Nations SDGs


Founding partners


Get involved

We are seeking to expand our partnerships and procure additional funding for the continued development of ABALOBI. We welcome expressions of interest from prospective funders and research, technology & implementation partners ...

In the news


Co-design of catch data visualisations with small-scale fishers || How do fishers interpret and best interact with their data? How can data (and data visualisation) help fishers make decisions relating to their fishing activities?

Using the ABALOBI FISHER logbook app, small-scale fishers record a range of data: weather and sea conditions, catch specifics (including logging trips that yield no catch), costs associated with fishing activities, and any income generated from trading catch. ABALOBI ANALYTICS dashboards allow fishers to access and share data overviews. Such visualisation can reveal data trends and address key questions such as: Change in the distribution of species caught over time (Which species are targeted at different times of the year?); Income generated versus expenses incurred (To what degree is the fisher operating at a loss or a profit?); Distribution of costs incurred within a specific time period; and Distribution of income generated per species (What are the most stable and sustainable revenue-generating species?).

These dashboards need careful co-design and iteration to suit the context and needs of the fishers and other stakeholders – and this has been our recent focus in collaboration with the University of Cape Town Centre for #ICT4D.

The aim of data visualisation is to provide fishers with actionable information to best plan future fishing activities, for improved financial management of daily operations, and mitigation measures to address declining resource trends and sustainability concerns. Visualisation can equip fishers to make informed decisions based on historical data, encourage discussion among community members and facilitate evidence-based discussions with government institutions relating to policy making.

In the same co-design process, we are engineering data visualisation for monitors, managers, local fisher assistants, fisher co-operatives and market members in the different components of the ABALOBI app suite. One of our main objectives is to engage with social and ecological indicators, at all levels, towards transparency and traceability in the sector.
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This World Oceans Day we are reflecting on the human element of our oceans, and the importance of recognising #humanrights in #smallscalefisheries ...

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) #humanrightsapproachtofisheries
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Fish with a social & ecological story || Where does your fish come from? Was it caught sustainably? Who caught it, and how? Read on …

We’ve been working hard on a crucial piece of ‘hook to cook’ – ABALOBI MARKETPLACE. This app enables the processing and marketing of fish (and other marine resources) with an ecological & social ‘story’ in a manner that is fully traceable along the value chain. The goal? Empowerment in the value chain and the development of fisher-community-based eco- & social-labelling. The app, connected to our ABALOBI suite, is the retail channel of the process which allows fishers to supply local and global markets interested in sourcing seafood that is fair, credible and has a low environmental impact.

The app has the potential to maximise inter-operability with a multitude of other tech-based financial services and tools to facilitate accessible, transparent business development for small-scale fishers. A key value proposition is that this component allows fisher groups to valorise non-quota, less ‘mainstream’ species towards community- and restaurant-supported fisheries.

By embarking on a co-design process, and as we are raising funding to continue our work, we have developed a minimum viable product which allows fishers to connect their catch via the ABALOBI FISHER logbook. The fisher assigns a QR code code to their catch for sale. A customer scans the code with their smartphone and is directed to our ‘Hook to Cook’ page, where they access information regarding what the fish is, who caught it, where it was caught and how. This creates awareness and provides the customer with a story of the seafood they are about to prepare and eat. We have also integrated SnapScan – a commonly used mobile payment system in South Africa – to allow the customer to pay the fisher directly.

We will trial the platform over the coming months with our ABALOBI pilot fishers and several early adapters, including restaurant chefs in Cape Town who have expressed the desire to buy local, fresh, good-quality seafood that is not only ecologically sustainable but socially fair. Supporting small-scale fishers, supporting local. ‘Local is lekker!’

#traceability #sustainablefish #smallscalefisheries

– with Serge Raemaekers Nico Waldeck Abongile Ngqongwa Stuart du Plessis Tatiana Piazza WWF South Africa The Foodbarn Restaurant, Deli & Tapas Stepbrothers Deli & Restaurant Foliage Oep ve Koep Wolfgat Gabriel Roux SASSI Steenberg WOOLWORTHS SA Slow Food International Jackie Sunde University of Cape Town
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Fish with a social and ecological story ...

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ABALOBI shared EKOPO's photo. ... See MoreSee Less

Pendant ce temps-là en Afrique du Sud : l'appli Abalobi aide les petits pêcheurs... www.ek...

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